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Is Upwork worth it in 2023 for UK-based freelancers? Here’s an honest review from a freelancer who’s been on the platform for over 6 years (wow).
I’m from the UK and when I tell people that I find a lot of my freelance clients through Upwork, a lot of the time they ask me – ‘Is Upwork worth it though? Can you make a full-time income from Upwork?’
I’ve been on Upwork for over six years now.
In 2022, I made £84,000 from freelancing and a large chunk of those clients came from Upwork.
Here’s my profile for you to verify me! (Yes, I’m called Charlotte on Upwork because my legal name is Charlotte, and you need to register with your government ID on Upwork)
I started as a wannabe digital nomad with ZERO ONLINE SKILLS to a top-rated freelancer. I was actually rated as being in the top 1% of Upwork freelancers in 2022, which was pretty cool!
It seemed it was time to give an honest review of the freelancing platform to help other aspiring Upworkers out there. I think the platform is great for anyone starting out as a freelancer, and I will explain why below.
If you are interested in starting on Upwork but think you don’t have any skills, then it’s time for a reality check, anyone can become a freelancer.
Is Upwork Worth It In 2023? UK Freelancer Review
You won’t be surprised to hear that, like anything, there are good points and bad points to Upwork. You don’t want your long-term plan to be dependent on Upwork but to get started as a freelancer, I truly believe it’s the best place and there’s a reason why it’s become the largest freelancer platform in the world now.
Upwork Advantages For Freelancers
1. A constant supply of jobs
The first good thing about Upwork is that there is a NEVER ENDING supply of jobs to apply for. Every day there is a stream of new projects or roles to apply for.
Upwork provides access to a large pool of clients from different industries and regions, allowing freelancers to find work in their area of expertise. You’ll find that even multinationals look for freelancers and permanent contract roles on Upwork, there’s definitely an opportunity for high-earnings on Upwork!
It’s definitely a real timesaver to have all my potential clients IN ONE PLACE. You don’t have to hunt down job forums or scroll through endless Facebook groups.
On Upwork, everything is neatly compressed into one location with easy filters to help with the searching process.
2. The clients come to you
Once you build up a strong success rating (95% and over), searching for jobs gets a lot easier. As a ‘Top-Rated Freelancer’, you no longer have to search for jobs because often the clients will invite you to apply.
Most days, I receive an invitation to apply for a project or even a long-term freelance position.
This is a great time-saver for freelancers on Upwork! Most freelancers complain of the amount of time they spend hustling to find clients. For me, Upwork is worth it for this reason alone.
Yes, you have to pay a commission to Upwork (10% + 4% Admin Free as of May 2023) but consider that the finders fee. How many hours do you spend trying to prospect clients and then on outreach in traditional methods?
It’s really worth putting in the effort to become a top-rated freelancer on Upwork so that you can receive invitiations for jobs.
3. Payment Protection
The third advantage of Upwork is payment protection. I don’t have to invoice my clients and then chase them up for weeks on end.
If you’ve ever worked as a freelancer before, then you know how some clients can be extremely annoying with late payments or sometimes, not even paying!
With payment protection, you know exactly when and how much you will be paid. As any freelancer knows, this is a HUGE advantage of Upwork! Thumbs up for payment protection.
Surprisingly, Upwork does offer opportunities for growth and professional development through various certification programs and the ability to work on a variety of projects.
Once you’ve been on there a while, you’ll find that you will receive invites to different webinars, surveys and participation groups where you can upskill for free on how to run a small business or in your industry.
Also, Upwork has a thing called ‘Agencies’ and ‘Networking’ programs, where you can connect with other freelancers to create your own agency or you can refer other freelancers to a job.
Upwork is a great place to grow as a business if you’re serious about putting in the work.
5. Low overhead costs
Finally, I personally do think the payment structure on Upwork is pretty good when you compare other small business running costs.
Freelancers on Upwork do not need to invest in office space, equipment, or software, reducing their overhead costs.
If all I have to pay is a commission fee, then I’m pretty happy with that!
Disadvantages To Upwork
However, there are also negatives to Upwork that might leave you wondering ‘Is Upwork worth it?’ for UK freelancers. f
The most obvious downside for UK-based freelancers is the competition. You are competing against thousands of people from developing countries. Countries where the cost of labour is a lot lower.
A freelancer based in The Philippines is happy to work for $3/hour because that money goes a lot further than it does in the UK.
There are ways around the competition. The secret is to pitch only to high-end clients. I go into more detail on this in my ebook, Upwork Your Way To Freedom.
2. Upwork Favours Clients
The second negative that springs to mind is the unfair way Upwork treats its freelancers. If a dispute arises, Upwork nearly always favours the client.
This means that, often, the freelancer is left having to refund their money. It doesn’t seem very fair, does it? As well as this, they often have to receive a bad review on their profile which tarnishes their reputation.
If you do happen to receive a bad review. It’s not the end of the world.
When I first started, after a few disagreements with dodgy clients I found myself sinking down to 66% reputation! I was devastated and vowed to delete my Upwork profile. (I can be a bit of drama queen!)
But, I picked myself up, brushed myself off and got back online. I began to apply selectively to jobs, writing personalised cover letters. Most importantly, I learned to walk away from jobs if the client didn’t feel right. No money is going to make up for a nightmare client.
3. Lack of job security
Just like any small business or self-employment, freelancers on Upwork do not have the same level of job security as traditional employees and may experience periods of time without work.
If you’re someone who struggles with anxiety around money then relying solely on freelancing, let alone Upwork, for your income, might be difficult for you.
4. Communication challenges
Sometimes you may experience challenges in communicating with clients due to language barriers or differences in time zones.
But again, this is the same situation for any self-employed person or actually even an employed person with a client-facing role! You’re always going to deal with people who have different native languages to you or different work cultures.
Conclusion To ‘Is Upwork Worth It’
I hope my Upwork review helps you see that Upwork IS worth it for freelancers, especially those based in the UK.
Upwork is a great way to get started quickly as a freelancer. Freelancing has changed my life and got me started as a digital nomad.
Freelancing allows me to travel the world and live life on my terms. If you think becoming a freelancer could be right for you, pick up a copy of my ebook – Upwork Your Way To Freedom.
Currently, I live in Australia, and it was so easy for me to move countries and continue earning money because I could just pick up my laptop and move with my partner. No tiring job-searching and applying, I could just keep on with my current clients based in the US and UK.
When you start as a freelancer. There is a lot to learn! The ebook helps guide you through the process of becoming a successful freelancer ON YOUR TERMS.
You learn a lot about how to interact with clients as well as receive plenty of practice on how to pitch for jobs.
You don’t want to become dependent on Upwork for all your income. Any self-employed person will tell you how important it is to have various income streams. And eventually, you will want to become less dependent on Upwork and become a fully independent freelancer.
With hard work and self-discipline, anyone can get work on Upwork with no experience!
As cringe as it sounds – believe in yourself and everyone else will too.
Feel free to shoot me an email or drop a comment with any questions you have!